Sunday, 17 May 2015

Why The Sun published Gov. Fayose’s death wish advert on General Buhari — Femi Adesina + How he used his column to write Gen. Buhari into relevance

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The GDA & Mr. Femi Adesina after the encounter

Femi Adesina is the kind of leader you have and you can go to bed with the hope of a greater tomorrow. A gentle man to the core and a very dynamic news room manager of over two and a half decade; The Managing Director/Editor-in-chief of The Sun Publishing Ltd, Publishers of Daily Sun, Saturday Sun and Sunday Sun is  equally a very busy man with couple of activities begging for his attention here and there.
I have known him for a couple of years since my great brother and elder in the profession; Mr. Louis Odion (Now Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Edo state) brought me in contact with him. Very meek, generous with laughter and goodwill and equally reliable; he is one of the very few Media leaders in Nigeria and perhaps Africa, who understands well, the tenets of a “Public Interest Media” as he encourages a lot of young journalists and media executives to grow through his freewill leadership style.
Femi Adesina is equally the President of Nigeria’s media elite organization, Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) a position that straddles his attention and commitments with that of managing a giant media establishment like Sun Publishing.
 A columnist per excellence, his Friday-Friday column at the back page of Daily Sun (With his famous email address) is like an addiction to the intellectual appetite of legion of readers across Nigeria. Apart from the grasping narratives he uses to promote his opinion, Adesina is a master of native expression as he uses his literary wits to narrate local/contemporary issues that stir arguments and counter opinions. It is also on record that in the last seven years plus, Femi Adesina remains the only Nigerian columnist that has consistently and conscientiously used his column in The Sun Newspaper to promote the candidacy of Nigeria’s President Elect, General Muhammad Buhari. His several articles on the potentials of the Spartan retired Army General turned politician has drawn both love and hate for Adesina in equal proportion and those are the issues this blog raised with him when we caught up with him penultimate Wednesday May 6th after six week on his trail.
Getting to his Kiri-Kiri Road, Apapa-Lagos office was not a hassle but taking another two hours to wait at his guest room for his guest/visitors to “release” him was another assignment we had to tackle. But with patience on our side, we were ushered into his ambience inside his large portioned office around 6pm in the evening and the encounter with Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog Asabeafrika began.  We spoke to Mr. Adesina on his recent trip to the historical city of Ephesus in Turkey, his over 7 years passion for the candidacy of General Muhammadu Buhari; the crisis of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti’s “death wish” front page advertorial on General Buhari published by The Sun Newspaper during the electioneering period and how he runs The Sun Publishing Ltd side by side his role as President, Guild of Editors. This is part One of the interesting encounter with one of Nigeria’s most innovative media titan. Enjoy!
Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika....'Nigerians must learn to trust and be patient for the Buhari-Osinbajo government to deliver'
Can you tell this blog your experience as the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of Sun Newspaper vis-à-vis your role as President, Nigerian Guild of Editors?
Yes, it has been quite challenging and interesting.  It is time demanding but then, God gives the grace. The grace to do the work is available. The grace of God is sufficient and because one is in one’s area of specialization and expertise, one enjoys doing it. So, it is a job I enjoy doing. 
“That is the reply I give them whenever they react to my column and write all those things that ‘Buhari will never rule this country again’ I will just reply and say ‘Goodluck to you’ and we have seen that no man is God; no man should ever use the word ‘Never’, it is only God that can use that word ‘Never’ and it truly would mean ‘Never’ but with man, we cant say “Never”.

Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika...'We ran Gov. Ayo Fayose's 'death wish' advert  after a thorough professional tone down'
My Turkey Experience
You recently travelled to the City of Ephesus a biblically historical city in Turkey; can you share your experience on that trip with Asabeafrika?
It was actually my first trip to Turkey and I learnt a lot. Turkey straddles Asia and Europe but Turkey competes with any other country in the western world. It was an eye opener to me that Turkey was as modern as any other western country. Turkey is 98 or 99 percent Muslim population but it is not an Islamic state even with over 98% Muslims Turkey is still not an Islamic state. It is a secular state and you can compare them with any other part of the world. The second thing I noticed was that their currency is very strong.
Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika....'My trip to Turkey opened my eyes to so many realities about Turkey'
Is it as strong as the Dollar or Pound sterling?
Not the same thing but the exchange rate is not very wide like we have it here and when we were changing our dollars to their currency, it was less than four to a dollar and they were complaining that their currency has gone down. So, it is a very strong economy. It is a full and delightsome country except for some dissatisfaction with the political situation.
Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika....'I always told people who criticized me for supporting General Buhari that i wish them Goodluck'
What Turkey needs from Nigeria
I read in your Friday column in The Sun of Friday March 20 that the political situation in that country is callous especially to the media? Is that true?  
Yes, the president is not having it easy with the media in that country and certain political forces. From what I gathered, I think the president started quite well but it is like that there was a parting of ways between him and some key stakeholders in that country including the media establishment. I think that is a draw back to the political sagacity of that country.
An overview of his expansive office
Is it similar to our own challenge in Nigeria?
The only similarity that can come is that if Turkey will change its political situation, they will need a coalition like we had in Nigeria. We had a coalition in APC where the old ACN, CPC, a part of APGA, ANPP came together and formed a powerful coalition-APC and they have now ousted the PDP. If they are going to oust the current ruling party and that president (President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) in Turkey, the opposition has to come together. If they pull in different direction, they will never be able to oust him and I hope they will learn a lesson from Nigeria. 
 “I believe that at 72, General Buhari just wants to put his foot prints indelibly in the sands of time in Nigeria, what else does he wants? I wrote it before that if the man didn’t steal our money when he was 40, would he steal it at 72? No, he won’t”.
Femi Adesina, MD & E-in-C, The Sun Newspaper in a chat with Asabeafrika

How I reacted to Gen Buhari’s victory
Let’s come back home, you are one of the famous columnist and editors that has consistently supported General Muhammad Buhari with your column in the last six years. Could you say you fulfilled now that General Buhari finally won the 2015 election and on his way to Aso Rock?  
(Burst into a blaze of hearty laughter)…That is an understatement (Laughs Heartily). I am very, very happy and thankful to God that in my own life time, something I desired came to be. Something I hope and pray for came to be. You needed to see me when the election results were coming in I just began to really praise God and give Him thanks that in our own lifetime, change was coming to Nigeria. I believe that change is not just a slogan or a mere mantra. We will see that change manifest.
L-R; Femi Adesina, Gov. Ayo Fayose, Otunba Gbenga Daniel & Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu during The Sun Standard Exit Awards for Katsina state Governor, Bar. Ibrahim Shema
But when you were writing your column and trying to sell the candidacy of General Buhari, a lot of people went out criticizing you, they thought your analysis couldn’t come to pass. So, how do you feel with such people now?
Yes, I feel vindicated. Quite vindicated because a lot of people didn’t see what we were seeing, they will abuse me, they were sending messages that this man will NEVER be president and some will use the word N-E-V-E-R and I will just reply them ‘Goodluck to you’ (Laughter) That is the reply I give them whenever they react to my column and write all those things that ‘Buhari will never rule this country again’ I will just reply and say ‘Goodluck to you’ and we have seen that no man is God; no man should ever use the word ‘Never’, it is only God that can use that word ‘Never’ and it truly would mean ‘Never’ but with man, we cant say “Never”.
L-R; Femi Adesina, Gov. Ayo Fayose, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Gov Shema of Katsina & Wife with Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu
You have shown a whole lot of concern to the deplorable situation in our educational system through your editorials. With a man like General Muhammad Buhari, what do you think is going to be the fate of the educational sector, media and general economy?
I believe that at 72, General Buhari just wants to put his foot prints indelibly in the sands of time in Nigeria, what else does he wants? I wrote it before that if the man didn’t steal our money when he was 40, would he steal it at 72? No, he won’t. So, let us start with the media industry, yes, when he came as a military leader there were some mistakes that he made and he has learnt from those mistakes. He really has. From his own word, he said he is a reformed person; he said he is a democrat. He was a military ruler in his first outing; now, he is a democrat and I believe that democracy cannot thrive without the media. So, the two must work together and I think General Buhari is going to cooperate with the media in this second coming. Then, the second one is education. One of the blighted areas in Nigeria is education and because General Buhari is coming to effect a change, education is one of the areas we need change. You need to see what we went through the upper years when universities were on strike for over three months. I have a daughter in the university and she was home all those months, it was frustrating for parents. As we speak right now, doctors are on strike in many areas. In UCH I know the resident doctors are on strike and in some other teaching hospitals like that. I believe that this in-coming regime will make a difference in the live of Nigerians. Of course the economy is down no doubt about it. The news came today that the government had to borrow about Two hundred and Seventy-Two billion naira to pay salaries; it shows you that the economy, really has collapsed. Really, really and truly, the economy has collapsed and I want to believe that the incoming regime will make a difference.
 “Our publisher himself (Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu) says it, that The Sun has grown beyond him. He says that The Sun belongs to the people now and not to him and during the election he told us, ‘do a balanced paper’, ‘if you use this paper to support PDP and election ends, what we shall be selling?”
One of Femi Adesina's reveting articles on the candidacy of Gen
Buhari is not a magician…
There is the fear that General Muhammad Buhari’s government might not have the temerity to hit the ground working immediately. How do you think the reform will take shape and Nigeria will start feeling it?
Only God does immediate miracles. Man has to do things progressively; so, I want to urge Nigerians to just give the incoming government that time, that patience that they will require to fix things. It is not going to be like waging a magic wand and things are conjured. No, it will take time. I just want to urge Nigerians to be patient with that government. But one thing is key in governance and that is trust. I believe it is going to be a government that Nigerians can trust. Nigerians can trust General Buhari’s government and that ability to trust government should also tell them that they must be patient and that government will serve them. Buhari/Osinbajo will serve Nigeria to the best of their ability.
The GDA in the heat of the encounter with Mr. Femi Adesina
Why Sun Newspaper carried General Buhari’s ‘death wish’ advert
During the campaign period it was curious to know that your newspaper The Sun was one of the medium that carried the death wish advert from Ekiti state governor Ayodele Fayose, how were you able to survive the heat of criticism despite the fact that personally, you as the MD, you are a General Muhammad Buhari person?
Yes, I must confess I saw that advert before it was published but what was published eventually is not what came originally. We had to tone it down considerately. And after it was toned down I felt it should go but then, wishes are just wishes (Loud laughter). The wish (of Governor Ayodele Fayose) didn’t come to pass because General Buhari didn’t die; he will not die now. He will serve Nigeria and certainly he will make a change in this country and when it is in the fullness of time for him to go and rest, he will go and rest.
'Ayo Fayose is my very good friend even though i disagree with some of his opinion
Gov. Ayo Fayose is my Friend
So, if you set your eyes on Governor Ayo Fayose how will you feel that his wish didn’t come to pass?
Governor Fayose is my friend, he is my friend. I like him, I could have reservation about his politics but as a person, I like him. If he calls me now and I call him now, you need to hear how he will salute me and I will salute him (Laughter). He will hail me and I would hail him. He is somebody I like. I may have some reservation about the way he plays his politics but we are friends and I like him.
During the electioneering period a lot of Nigerians also discovered that your brand The Sun supported Goodluck Jonathan in her front comments, it was like the front cover was for GEJ while the back cover every Friday, by you, is for General Buhari. How were you able to play politics with principle?
Well, that goes to show you that there is editorial independence in The Sun; right from the publisher to the least person in this place, there is editorial independence. Let me tell you, the publisher is a PDP person, in his column he will support Goodluck Jonathan. I, I wouldn’t call myself an APC person, I don’t have a party. But I am a Muhammadu Buhari person, okay? And I would write to support him. In this company there are about eight to ten columnists who are anti-Buhari and they will right from Monday to Thursday, they will write their anti-Buhari thesis and on Friday, only myself and Chief Duro Onabule who will then come out to support Buhari. So, it shows to you that there is true editorial independence in The Sun.
Some of his awards given by local & International bodies
Why Sun Newspaper is Number 1
Your brand has also grown in terms of innovation and circulation, I was in Niger state couple of months back and your newspaper was one of the first brands to arrive the state capital? How have you been able to grow from strength to strength in such a competitive market?
We give the glory to God and I want to say that unless God gives you success, you cannot attain it; you will see that right from day one The Sun was a hit in the market and it has remain as a hit with the people and we as the people that run The Sun, what we just do is to continue to give the people what they want. Give them what they want and they will remain truthful, faithful and loyal to you. So, we will continue to give what people want; anytime we have the information that this is what people want, we give it to them and we will continue to do that, we will stay with the people. When we started over twelve years ago, we said we were going to stay on the side of the people and that is where we are and we will never leave the arena of the people.
Femi Adesina to Asabefrika...'The Grace of God allows me to run both the activities of Daily Sun and NGE
A lot of media enthusiast believes that Daily Sun is the only newspaper in Nigeria that has a public trust agenda as other publication reign on proprietorship interest and nothing for mass public. How did you achieve and sustain this?
Our publisher himself (Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu) says it, that The Sun has grown beyond him. He says that The Sun belongs to the people now and not to him and during the election he told us, ‘do a balanced paper’, ‘if you use this paper to support PDP and election ends, what we shall be selling? (General Laughter) If you use it to support APC and election ends, what shall we be selling?
(Cuts in) So far it is not AIT….(Laughter)
We know some media houses that took position on the side of the PDP; the question is ‘what would they be selling now that PDP has lost out in the power game? So, it is better to be professional and ethical at all times.
Femi Adesina's article on his trip to Ephesus in Turkey
Why The Sun is honoring Katsina Governor
You have also gone into innovative ideas and events that are extra-ordinary in nature. The next one coming up this Saturday is what is known as “The Sun Outstanding Performance Exit Awards”. What calls for this and what is it all about?
It is just to honor those who deserves honor and to glorify service to the public. That award was conceived as something that will be given to a governor that is ending two terms and who has made significant impact in the life of his people. We visited Katsina state and we were amazed at what we saw, really, really amazed at what we saw and that was why we decided to give that honor to Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema, the Governor of Katsina state and we believe that he truly deserves it.
Are you saying Governor Shema is the most outstanding out-going governor in that part of Nigeria?
By our own estimation, he is quite outstanding and he deserves the honor.
Mr. Femi Adesina, MD & E-in-C, The Sun Publishing & President, Nigeria Guild of Editors
Why The Sun went into events management
Your Sun Man of The Year Award is rated as Nigeria’s most expensive awards ceremony. Why did The Sun Newspaper dabble into events?
Now, what we aim at is this. Over the years it has been said that Nigeria is a mono-product economy. Only oil, oil, oil, that is the only thing Nigeria depends on and whenever the price of oil goes down, it becomes a problem to Nigeria. We have learnt a lesson from that, as a media house we cannot have just a mono-product, just a newspaper. You have to have other stream of incomes. We are a multi-product company and that is why you see us stage most of this innovative events. Yes, in whatever we do we try to do well. For us, cost is not an issue. It is just to do whatever we do well, have a grand outing and let people that attended be satisfied that ‘Yes, The Sun has put up a fantastic show”.
The conference segment of his expansive office
(Watch out for Part 2 of the Femi Adesina Exclusive titled “Why I love Pastor W.F. Kumuyi” tomorrow on this blog)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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